So many questions, so little time. OK, I will address try to address them here.
I have no other PR’s because I have only raced marathons. Last summer I did participate in a 4 mile race but I did’nt train for it. It was run near my normal training route, and on the same day as a cut-back long run. I decided to run it towards the end of my long run and then jog home. I ran the 1st 10 of my long run, ending at the race start, ran the race, and then finished my long run. I had no idea how to pace myself and wound up going out at 6:20 and faded over the last 2 miles. I finished in 28:16. Thats the only non-marathon I ever ran.
The May-Oct pattern exists because these 2 races (Long Island and Mystic Places) are near my home and are almost exactly 6 months apart. This allows me to prepare for a full 6 months between races. As you can see I don’t run these races for the experience but to ‘challenge’ myself to reach the next level of performance (what ever that may be for me). This May 2nd will be my 3rd run of Long Island in 3 years. When I am old and retired, and stop improving, I will run marathons for the experience. Until then I view them as a ‘test’ not an experience.
I plan to take a 6 month break from marathoning as soon as I achieve my immediate goal of a BQ.
With the exception of the long and easy runs I always run at my planned pace. I either run them on a track, a treadmill, or (most often) on the roads with either a FitSense pace/distance or ForeRunner GPS pace/distance watch. The easy runs tend to average about 8:30-8:40 on the roads, on the mill I do them at 8:40. In the long runs, I try to average 8:15-8:25, with the fastest portion at the end.
Its for that reason that I switched my long 16 and 20 mile long runs. I knew before mile 16 that I was slowing and did’nt want to finish a long run that way. When I reran the 20 last weekend I felt strong over the last 5 miles and finished feeling good, with a few sub-8:00 miles.
I do lots of long runs relative to my weekly milage but don’t feel they take that much out of me. I enjoy the long runs and the pace I run them at feels good. I look forward all week to my long run, compared to ‘dreading’ the hill or interval workouts. Hills and intervals are far more likly to have an impact on me the following day.
It appears I covered your question about why my marathons are 6 months apart and why I keep running them. I figured I would have had my BQ 2 races ago. I then plan to take some time off from marathons, see if I can develop some speed in the shorter distances, and then come back to race Boston a year later.
I know my pace seems fast based on what many of the books suggest as lsd pace vs marathon pace. Its was’nt this way in every cycle. I had already planned out my training well into the future. I figured my next 4 races after the 1st would go 3:40, 3:30, 3:25, 3:20. That worked for the 3:40 but fell short after that. My training pace now is based on my orginal plans, so I am training like my goal is 3:20, but plan on racing for a 3:30.
I figured that if the slower training pace did’nt produce the 3:30 that to repeat that for another cycle would not help. So after each race, In addition to the other schedule changes I make, I also bump my training paces across the board.
I know the pace seems fast compared to the goal but I don’t seem to be suffering any ill effects. I run 7 days a week and have’nt missed a day for a year. Ran with colds, ran in the middle of the night when I got home late from meetings, somehow I find a way to get in my workout every day. No injuries, no unusual fatique from one day to the next.
To this day I still can’t see how running slow lsd’s will prepare me to run 2-4 miles more, and a lot faster come race day. To me the long run is ‘easier’ than the race because its 2-4 miles shorter (those are the killer miles when I race) and even 15-25 seconds slower than race pace makes a huge difference. I almost never finish a long run feeling like I could’nt turn around and run a few more miles. And any soreness after the run is gone in a few hours.
What it comes down to is after each failed attempt to reach the goal I have increased the tempo of my training while maintaining the original goal. That makes many of the training paces seem fast by comparison.
Thanks everyone for the good advice and, especially, for the encouragement. I am a goal oriented person in my work life and I always establishing goals, with mile-marks to measure progress, build a plan to reach those marks and adjust the plan along the way. The past 2 races had me questioning if my goals were reasonable or, perhaps I needed to reevaluate them.